As we seek to furnish our houses, we look for bargains. Do we think of the real price behind the cheap table or shelves? Is it possible for products to be a bargain for everyone all along the supply chain?
Many of these cheaper items on offer have a dark story. They are the product of illegal logging; often linked to armed conflicts, human exploitation, and forest destruction. Some companies put profit ahead of responsibility, ignoring national laws and regulations, harvesting in protected areas, processing and transporting timber and wood products in breach of local as well as international laws and knowingly putting workers and local populations at risk. They haven't paid for the rights to harvest this timber and so they are in effect stealing from those poor populations who depend on the forest for their daily survival. But by the time this product reaches the shelves for us to buy, its history has been erased and forgotten, the product has been sanitised so consumers can be absolved of their guilt in buying the product and becoming part of this dark story themselves.
Choosing legally produced goods, consumers ensure they are contributing to a positive story.
In recent years, new legislation banning illegal timber imports to the United States (the Lacey Act) and a similar legislation in preparation in Europe is supporting consumers and producers and is helping to rewrite the story of timber globally.
In conjunction with the EU European timber trade federations have developed the Timber Trade Action Plan (TTAP), which is being managed by TFT. TTAP is a project aiming to reduce the trade in illegal timber by helping members of European timber trade federations' to work towards legality verification of their timber supplies and wood products.
In 2005, TTAP started to work in the tropical timber producing countries Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Indonesia and Malaysia, and in 2007 in Bolivia, Brazil, China and Guyana, assisting forest managers and timber companies to take practical steps towards producing and trading legally verified timber. The seven year project is co-financed with 7 million Euros by the European Commission, with matching co-funds provided by partner trade federations and their members (2 million Euros).
With the TTAP project TFT is helping responsible companies change the stories of hundreds of products. Ensuring that your timber is legal is the first step towards responsibility.